There Is No President

Submitted by Bill St. Clair on Mon, 07 May 2007 13:10:18 GMT  <== Politics ==> 

Jeff Snyder at - voting will not stop Mr. Bush. Congress won't do it. But if enough people stop cooperating with his regime, it will fall, just as the Berlin Wall fell, just as Communism fell in Russia. His power lies not really in men with guns enforcing his will. It lies with millions of Americans giving away their own power to him. [lew]

Political authority is not a force of nature; it does not inhere in Messrs. Bush and Cheney as gravity inheres in mass, and we are not held in orbit around them as the earth is the sun. Political authority is a social construct. It exists because we believe it exists, have faith in it, and act as if it exists or, for those who would like nothing better than to get their hands on it, because it is a game that must be continued in order to acquire that power to exploit for their own interests and goals. As such, it is not something that Messrs. Bush or Cheney actually possess -- we have it. Let's stop trying to bend the president. Clearly that's impossible. Instead, only try to recognize the truth: there is no president; it is only yourself. Our desire that someone exercise power over others for our benefit is the source of, and provides the tools for, our own subjugation and exploitation.

In 1548, a French law student named Étienne de la Boétie (pronounced "Bwettie") wrote an essay titled "Discours sur la Servitude volontaire, ou Contr'un" (Discourse on Voluntary Servitude, or, Against the One). La Boétie made the counterintuitive and revolutionary discovery that governments do not rule by force of arms. The handful of men and women who wield ultimate political power do not and cannot possess sufficient force to compel the people to obey them or, more accurately, cannot possibly compel their subjects to do everything that is necessary in order to sustain their power. The truth is that people are enslaved or tyrannized through their own cooperation and their own initiative in, not just cooperating, but furthering the ruler's goals in order to acquire power and wealth by sharing in the spoils. If enough people would realize this, and refuse to cooperate in their own subjugation, la Boétie argued, the ruler's authority would simply collapse; tyranny would end without bloodshed. So far as I am aware, la Boétie's essay is the first call for noncooperation and civil disobedience, and first explanation of why it can work.

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The specific passage that

Submitted by Dave on Fri, 11 May 2007 23:37:59 GMT

The specific passage that M'sieur Boétie wrote-- and one that I have memorized-- is:

"Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces?"

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